December 1, 2005
by Canadian Architect
Architect Diamond and Schmitt Architects
Location Los Alamos, New Mexico
The Los Alamos Civic Center is envisioned to be the centrepiece of community and cultural activity for the City of Los Alamos. As a key anchor for downtown revitalization, it will also be a focus for theatre, performance, recreational, leisure and community activities. Additionally, the Civic Center is designed to provide a venue for conferences, trade exhibitions and educational activities sponsored by the County and Los Alamos National Laboratories.
The design solution provides an economical approach to optimizing the combination of a 700-seat performance theatre (PAC) with a 350-seat community hall (CUB) and associated support spaces. These functions are enhanced by a lively caf and a highly visible public access television studio, both located on the corner of 20th Street and Central, connected to the PAC/CUB building by a spacious outdoor terrace with an outdoor fireplace, providing dramatic views of Ashley Pond from 20th Street. The design further accommodates a 12-lane bowling and recreational centre beneath the caf/TV studio, providing a focus for economically sustainable intergenerational activity opportunities for Los Alamos.
Exterior expression of the Los Alamos Civic Center is specifically designed to reflect the character and landscape of the area; a base of rugged red sandstone defines the corner edges of the buildings while metal and wood trellises provide shade above. Metal cladding creates a light and elegant enclosure to upper areas of the building and is combined with energy-efficient glass that is carefully placed to maximize dramatic mountain views from inside the buildings.
Finally, the design carefully considers sustainable “green” design principles in all regards, including energy-efficient mechanical systems, high-performance glass, architectural and tree shading, water conservation and low-water landscaping and indoor air quality, highlighted by an innovative biofilter wall in the main lobby.
Ouellette: An innovative, sustainable project designed to create a social centre for the City of Los Alamos. Home of the world’s first atomic bomb, this city on the Pajarito Plateau is 7,300 feet above sea level. The simple primary forms and materials used are ideally suited to fit their application on this landscape. This project slips to the Merit category only because of its comparison to the Jerusalem City Hall done by the same firm.
Provencher: The architects have proposed a very compelling solution for an urban civic centre. The project offers a smooth and an elegant transition between the city and the large pond in the park, and the plan and sections are clear and well structured. The civic plaza provides a charming setup for large-scale events during the day, and at night for users of the plaza who simply want to enjoy this wonderful space.
Taylor: An assemblage of a number of distinct program volumes, skillfully tied together by a palette of stone, zinc, timber and glass. I appreciated the way the interstitial zones flow together from interior to exterior, creating a rich sequence of public space.
Client County of Los Alamos
Architect Team Donald Schmitt, Michael Leckman, Derek Newby, Jon Soules, Jessie Waese, Walton Chan, Marc Schiff, Shary Adams
Structural Shen Milsom Wilke
Mechanical Shen Milsom Wilke
Electrical Shen Milsom Wilke
Theatre Fisher Dachs Associates
Acoustics Jaffe Holden Acoustics
Costing Balis & Company Inc.
Area 85,000,000 Ft2
Budget $24.5 M
Rendering of the Building’s East Elevation Suggests a Material Palette of Sandstone, Wood and Glass.
Entry Terrace of the Civic Center Separates Functions of the Complex While Providing An Attractive Outdoor Space for the Los Alamos Community.
Section Through Great Hall
Section Through Lobby